A Massachusetts woman who is believed to have coronavirus was on the same Italy trip as two Rhode Island residents who have also tested positive for the illness and a third who is undergoing tests.
The Rhode Island Department of Public Health said Tuesday afternoon that the presumptive case of coronavirus announced Monday by Massachusetts officials was connected to the three other potential cases.
Massachusetts health officials confirmed Monday night that a Norfolk County resident in her 20s had a presumptive positive case of COVID-19, noting that she recently traveled to Italy with a school group.
According to Rhode Island officials, that woman was on the same trip as a man in his 40s and a teenage girl, both of whom tested positive. A Rhode Island woman in her 30s who was also on that trip is undergoing tests.
Presumptive positive cases still need to be verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials said.
Hours before the DPH announced the presumptive case, police and school officials in Cohasset, Massachusetts, said a resident was under home quarantine after potentially being exposed to coronavirus.
Town leaders and health officials are holding daily meetings to prepare for the possible spread of the coronavirus.
"We just need to be proactive," said Cohasset Town Manager Christopher Senior. "We need to make sure that our residents know as much as they can, and we're sharing as much as we're able."
Senior says town officials don't know at this point whether or not Massachusetts' presumptive case is the same person who had been under quarantine at home.
"I've asked the state," he said. "I've said, 'Well, if you're not going to tell us, people are getting concerned, people are going to fill the absence of information with misinformation,' so the response is, at this point, you don't have to worry."
Senior says he learned just this week that, unlike the spread of diseases like the measles, coronavirus is transmitted through droplets after being in close contact with someone who has the disease.
"Close contact is six feet, 10 minutes or more," Senior said."That's what I've been told by the Department of Public Health."
As every town in Norfolk County awaits more information from the state and CDC, Senior says they have to operate on a presumption that if COVID-19 isn't already there, it may soon be.
"I think we all have to operate under the presumption that this is going to continue to spread. It's doing that around the country, it's doing that around the world, so we don't want to hide our heads in the sand," he said. "At the same token, we don't want to be fearful about something that there's no reason to be super concerned about."